The rabbinate is more than just the sum total of different tasks. It represents the continuity of spiritual leadership that connects Jews to Sinai of the past and to Mashiach of the future. In fact, the diminution of the rabbinate to a few limited functions implicit in its feminization provokes the intriguing question: what can a woman rabbi do that a non-Jew occupying the same position could not also do?
The diminished rabbinate highlights the rabbi’s pastoral role and minimizes the study of Torah and Jewish law, as if social work is the rabbi’s main task rather than an ancillary function of the rabbinate. It fosters a sense of the Torah as a feel-good document whose laws are not really binding on modern man because they can be adjusted to conform to feminism, egalitarianism and self-expression.
From that perspective, it is certainly understandable why Sally Priesand was an honored guest at the allegedly Orthodox ordination ceremony that occurred last month. Neither halachic methodology nor mesorah figures significantly in the calculations of the neo-Cons. Notwithstanding the professed good intentions of this movement, the conquest by the feminist and anti-authoritarian rebels of the 1960s will continue until the appropriate boundaries are drawn, and surrender to Torah again becomes the prerequisite of divine service.
About the Author: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author most recently of “Judges for Our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Shoftim” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2009). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.
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